Personalisation is for life, not just for Christmas!

I remember reading a Post Office survey about Christmas that claimed two thirds of us receive presents we don’t like but are too polite to ask for them to be exchanged for something else. So, apparently we donate them to charity shops, sell them online, ‘recycle’ them by giving them to others, even throw them away.

This got me thinking about how many of us really consider the person for whom we’re buying when we’re shopping. Do we think about their interests, what they like, what they might need? Or do we buy everyone the same thing? Years ago, the default present for kids was a book voucher, now it’s probably an Amazon or iTunes one!

But how much more special does it feel to receive a gift when the giver has put some thought into it? When they’ve been guided by what you’ve said, by what you do, by listening to your shared dreams. That knowledge is what we call data. Yes, your data might be stored away in your brain or jotted down on a notebook or smart phone but it’s still there and it could make all the difference between your Christmas gift being cherished and valued, or surreptitiously passed on.

These past few weeks you couldn’t open your inbox for Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, some of which proved relevant and personal, some didn’t. One particular one stood out for me. Having piqued my interest in the subject line I was then somewhat dismayed to be addressed as ‘Dear &firstname’. So near, and yet so far.

Getting personalisation right is vital, whether it’s e-shots or paper-based direct mail (DM) or SMS. This summer, Royal Mail did some research into the life stages of DM to discover how people of different generations engaged with or felt about it. Interestingly, they found that no group, irrespective of their use of technology, rejected DM as a communication channel in their lives.

They did, however, discover important nuances that might affect how different demographics interact with DM. For example, young adults living with their parents (fledglings) had little experience of receiving mail. It suggested that to influence them, advertisers needed to post out creative-led packs that appealed to the fledglings’ social orientation, they needed to be highly personalised and include a clear call to action.

So what does this all tell us about personalisation? It illustrates that when considering campaigns, brands need to consider not just getting someone’s name right and using imagery they can relate to but also using data to understand the target recipient’s attitudes and behaviours at their particular life stage. For instance, time-poor young parents may respond better to quick, upbeat, direct messaging. Whereas retirees that are more ‘experienced’ at reading marcomms might require a more respectful, traditional approach.

When it comes to developing your next campaign give it some thought. Don’t default to your catch-all messaging and creative as it might just be treated the same way as unwanted Christmas gifts. Make it personal, make it relevant, make it something your target needs, desires or aspires to. Some 65%* of people value DM that’s informative, that tells them something new so if you’ve got nothing to say, don’t say it.

Selfie sticks were apparently one of the most unwanted Christmas gifts in 2015 indicating that not everyone wants to document their life at arm’s length. Aim to get closer to your customers in 2017 through personalisation, it’s not just for Christmas but all year round!